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Public Statements

Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I thank Senator Blumenthal and Senator Boxer, who will be joining me in this conversation in a few minutes.

I think that now more than ever, after we have emerged from this very damaging and completely unnecessary government shutdown, the American people want us to focus on jobs and the economy. That is what every poll says, that is what all of our constituents say, and that is absolutely what is needed at a time when families continue to struggle to make ends meet.

Instead of working with us across the aisle on jobs and economic growth, it seems as if some Republicans are now focused on something else entirely--politics. In fact, in a short while, the senior Senator from South Carolina is going to be introducing a bill that is blatantly political, a bill that not only undermines a woman's access to her doctor but also restricts an array of reproductive health services.

Today we wish to make it abundantly clear; that is, that this extreme, unconstitutional abortion ban is an absolute nonstarter. It is going nowhere in the Senate and those Republicans know it.

I want to think that over the last 40 years, since the historic decision of Roe v. Wade, we have moved on from debating this issue. I wish to think that after four decades many of those who want to make women's health care decisions for them have come to grips with the fact that Roe v. Wade is settled law. After all, the many signs of progress are all around us.

This year a record 20 women are serving in this body. One year ago yesterday women's power and voice at the ballot box was heard loudly and clearly. In fact, last year when Republican candidates running for office thought that rape was a political talking point, that idea and their candidacies were swiftly rejected, thanks in large part to the voices of women. Only this week we saw women in Virginia resoundingly reject the Republican candidate for Governor and his misguided and outdated agenda for women's health.

Sometimes it is tempting to think that times have indeed changed, that maybe politicians have realized that getting between a woman and her doctor is not their job, that it is possible that right-wing legislators have a new-found respect for women's health care.

The truth is that the drumbeat of politically driven extremist and unconstitutional laws continues to get louder. Apparently some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle want to make some noise about this so that their adoring audience of rightwing radio hosts, columnists, and activists is satisfied.

In fact, here is an example of how blatantly political this restrictive ban is. One of the actual participants in the press conference to introduce their bill today had this to say to Politico about the strategy behind doing this. She said: ``It's a much better thing to be campaigning on rape and incest these days.''

That is an insult to women everywhere, and it is most certainly not what the Senator from South Carolina has called ``a debate worthy of a great democracy.''

This is a debate we have had. A woman's access to her own doctor is settled law. We are not going to let attacks on Roe v. Wade such as this one change that.

I wish to remind all of those who are even considering supporting this bill that real women's lives and the most difficult health care decisions they could ever possibly make are at stake.

I wish for us to consider the story that Judy Nicastro from my home State shared so bravely with the New York Times last summer. In an op-ed she wrote only days after the House passed a bill that was virtually identical to the one that is being introduced today, Judy talked about being faced with every pregnant woman's worst nightmare. In describing the news that one of the twins she was carrying was facing a condition where only one lung chamber had formed and that it was only 20 percent complete, Judy captured the anguish that countless women in similar positions have faced. She wrote:

My world stopped. I loved being pregnant with twins and trying to figure out which one was where in my uterus. Sometimes it felt like a party in there with eight limbs moving. The thought of losing one child was unbearable.

She went on to say:

The M.R.I., at Seattle Children's Hospital, confirmed our fears: the organs were pushed up into our boy's chest and not developing properly. We were in the 22nd week.

Under the bill that is being introduced, the decision Judy ultimately made through painful conversations with her family and consultation with her doctors would be illegal.

The decision to make sure, as she put it, ``our son was not born only to suffer'' would be taken from her and given to politicians.

I am here to provide a simple reality check. We are not going back. We are not going back on settled law. We are not going to take away a woman's ability to make her own decisions about her own health care and her own body. Women are not going back to a time when laws forced them into back alleys and made them subject to primitive and unsanitary care. Senators such as me, Senator Boxer, Senator Blumenthal, and others who join me in opposing this effort are not going to go anywhere.

Advocates and doctors who treat women every day and know that their health care must be protected are not going to go anywhere. Women who continue to believe that their health care decisions are theirs alone are not going anywhere.

By the way, the Constitution is not going anywhere. Therefore, this bill is not going anywhere. This bill, as attacks on Roe v. Wade before it, will eventually be lost to history. But millions of American women will not forget. I welcome our colleagues on the floor to this debate.

I yield the floor.


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